Monday, 3 November 2014

The Roller And The Bullfinch.

The European Roller is a rare vagrant, though over the years has amassed a total in excess of 300 records in Britain.... 

European Roller. Noushka Dufort

....but this one is in France.

I was amazed and surprised when I first saw the image of this Roller, amazed by the brilliant quality of the photography, and surprised at the Common Shrew in the birds bill. I had no idea this species of bird would take a shrew to feed to young as this one was doing according to the account by Noushka, thinking this birds diet was that of invertebrates.

So I did some reading up on the Roller to discover in one of the best reference books I possess - The Birds of the Western Palearctic - that the Roller feeds mainly on insects of medium to large sized beetles and crickets etc, making no mention of supplementing with the likes of an animal as large as the one in the photographs above.   

But more reading expanded on the Rollers feeding habits to claim....'The European Roller feeds on invertebrates, such as beetles, crickets, locusts, caterpillars, flies and spiders, they are also known to prey on small numbers of larger animals such as frogs, lizards, snakes and small birds'....and according to this evidence obviously the shrew.

And the Bullfinch.

Bullfinch David Cookson 

I was a little more than surprised to find 5 Bullfinch in Lancaster Cemetery on Wyresdale Road last Thursday. A species not found very much away from it's resident breeding grounds mainly in the Silverdale and Arnside, the Lune Valley, and the Heysham area. 

During last years breeding season 17 pairs were found on Warton Crag, and at least 3 pairs were in the Heysham area, but I found no records from the Lune Valley in 2013. But it's always a bonus to find the Bullfinch anywhere in our recording area away from traditional sites, and they were certainly an unexpected bonus for my visit to the cemetery last week. The most interesting Bullfinch I ever found was of four seen at Birk Bank on 1 November 2004, I saw four here again on 22 November when my records read that they were all male. I don't personally recall ever seeing Bullfinch in our area of Bowland before or since these records, but it is interesting to note that 2004 was the year of a massive invasion of continental Bullfinch into Britain around mid-October. 

Thanks to Noushka for the dramatic images of the Roller and the Common Shrew, and to David for the stunning male Bullfinch. 


Bob Bushell said...

The Roller is a beautiful bird, and the photographer, Noushka is brilliant.

Pete Woodruff said...

Spot on on both counts there Bob.

I spoke via e-mail to Noushka about the feeding behaviour of this Roller which I found interesting.

Brian Rafferty said...

Pete.Stunning images from Noushka and Dave. As usual Pete another interesting article for us all to enjoy.

Pete Woodruff said...

Yes, a couple of excellent images Brian. Pleased you found the Roller piece interesting.

Noushka said...

Many thanks Pete for completing my article! ;-)
I was indeed really thrilled when this guy appeared with a shrew in its beak!
The Bullfinch is gorgeous, I had only once the opportunity to take pictures of the male and the female, they are so scarce here.
enjoy your evening!

Pete Woodruff said...

I think a few will have been surprised by this Roller with the Common Shrew in it's bill for lunch.

Thank you for being in touch with me about this Noushka.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi Peter .. The first thing I love the headed Pipit in the snow .. Very beautiful .. And finally Roller stunning images with a prey .. (Shrew)
Regards from Madrid ..

Pete Woodruff said...

Thank you Ana....We all know you meant 'tordo'.

Kind Regards from Lancaster.